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The power of food on wellbeing

POSTED Thursday 3 October 2019

World Mental Health Day is a great time to recognise the impact of exercise on our wellbeing – but what about the power of eating the right foods? We chatted to UoB Sport & Fitness’ Nutritionist, Caroline, to find out how diet can help wellbeing.

Improving your diet and implementing healthier eating habits not only makes you feel better about yourself, but it can improve your wellbeing. Additionally, increasing some foods in your diet can even improve brain power too. Read on for some small changes you can make yourself to help with this!

Eat more natural foods and less processed foods

Natural foods (fruit and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds) provide a much greater variety of nutrients because they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants – all of which are very beneficial to health.

Eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables

Try to eat as many different colours of fruit and vegetables as possible, often referred to as “eating the rainbow.” Phytochemicals are the natural components found in fruit and vegetables that give them their colour and provide specific protective properties – each colour indicates an abundance of specific nutrients. Eating a range of colours of fruit and vegetables will provide you with a diverse range of the vitamins and minerals that your body requires.


The brain cannot work without energy. It requires a steady supply of glucose to work optimally. This can be achieved through eating low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates i.e. wholegrains. They are broken down more slowly and provide longer lasting energy. Examples are wholegrain cereals, brown rice, oats, wholewheat bread, bulgur wheat.

Berries and other naturally-occurring purple foods

They contain anthocyanins which are a type of antioxidant that provide protective functions to the body. There is also emerging evidence that they may improve brain and memory function. Try to add in one portion of naturally-occurring purple foods to your diet each day, for example blackberries, blueberries, purple sweet potatoes, figs, blackcurrants, elderberries.

Oily fish

The body cannot make essential fatty acids and so they must be obtained through food. They are important for brain function, general wellbeing, the heart and our joints. Omega-3 fatty acids occur naturally in oily fish, for example, trout, salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, kippers.


A key factor to improving brain power is to make sure that you stay well hydrated throughout the day. This is very important for cognitive function. Regularly sip drinks throughout the day, and make sure you compensate for water loss post-exercise.

World Mental Health Day is on Thursday 10 October 2019.


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